Live Review: YelaWolf proves he is one of hip hop’s most unique emcees with rousing Sydney show

Just hearing YelaWolf spit a verse live is a show in itself. The Alabama emcee has an innate talent for the kind of machine-gun rap very few can do so well, making it look easy as he confidently, and clearly, spins verse after verse with head-spinning proficiency, jumping from word to word without ever losing his footing. Add that to the now deep and diverse discography behind him and a Yela tour is hard to pass on, whether fans lean towards the creekwater rap he does so well, or the twangy country-punk he regularly threads into his style.

It was no surprise to see the Metro Theatre as full as it was, wall-to-wall with an incredibly energetic crowd that would often react so loudly you can barely hear set opener “Empty Bottles” as Yela led his fans through a rousing rendition of the Love Story cut, backed by a three-piece band. As a means of comparison, Yela switched to one of his earlier tracks for the follow-up, testing the crowd’s day-one-ness with the wordy “Catfish Billy” before bumping the breakneck pace of “Push ‘Em”, one of his many frenetic collaborations with Travis Barker.

It was surprising to hear so many tracks from Love Story throughout the night, with not even a handful coming from his most recent project, Trial By Fire. Even Radioactive barely got a peep in (save for the blaring “Growin’ Up in the Gutty” and Kid Rock collabo “Let’s Roll”), but thankfully Trunk Muzik was shown a heap of love through the night, kicking off with the drug-addled storytelling of “Billy Crystal”, re-appearing for the deliciously dark “Pop the Trunk”, and finishing off with fan favourite “Daddy’s Lambo”.

Although YelaWolf has grown a lot as an artist, increasingly efficient at balancing all the styles he pulls from and uses to represent where (and how) he grew up, the cuts from Trunk Muzik remain his most exciting live. Perhaps it’s something to do with how elastic, wild and experimental his flow was back then, compared to now when it’s more matured and controlled.

It’s clear fans love every iteration of YelaWolf equally though, singing just as loudly to the vulnerable “Devil in my Veins” or the poppy “Heartbreak”, as they are rapping to “Daylight” or screaming to “Punk”. All vastly different songs which when brought together sharply reiterate just how much this Alabama emcee is in control, cruising down a lane that’s entirely his own.

Set List:

Empty Bottles
Cashfish Billy
Push ‘Em
Billy Crystal
Outer Space
Growin’ Up In The Gutter
Best Friend
Johnny Cash
Devil In My Veins
Tennessee Love
Heartbreak
Pop the Trunk
Let’s Roll
American You
Till It’s Gone

Encore:
Daylight
Daddy’s Lambo
PUNK

The reviewer attended this show on December 19th.